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"I can't breathe" - Mayday call from boat fire reveals chaos

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:19s - Published < > Embed
'I can't breathe' - Mayday call from boat fire reveals chaos

"I can't breathe" - Mayday call from boat fire reveals chaos

Divers searched for more bodies early on Tuesday around the wreck of a boat destroyed by a blaze off the coast of southern California, as authorities launched an investigation into one of the area's worst maritime disasters.

Havovi Cooper has more.


"I can't breathe" - Mayday call from boat fire reveals chaos

Authorities are launching an investigation into one of Southern California's worst maritime disasters... after a massive fire engulfed a boat near Santa Cruz on Monday.

So far divers have recovered the remains of 25 people, and are searching for nine others still missing.

A mayday call from the incident captured the chaos on-board..

With a crew member screaming "I can't breathe." AUDIO WITH GRAPHIC: BOAT CREW MEMBER: "I can't breathe.

29 POB." COAST GUARD OFFICIAL: "Roger, you have 29 persons on-board and you can't breathe?

What's your current GPS position, over?" Officials later clarified that in all- there were 39 people on-board... dozens of them trapped in the sleeping quarters below deck at the time of the fire.

On the garbled SOS call - a dispatcher can be heard repeating information from the crew that there was no escape hatch for the passengers.

Five crew members were able to jump overboard and were rescued by Bob and Shirley Hansen - who were nearby on their fishing vessel.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) SHIRLEY HANSEN, 'GRAPE ESCAPE' SAYING: "I heard help and my husband got up and I followed him and he opened the door and he saw the flames." Ventura County Fire crews battled the blaze, but the boat eventually sank upside down in more than 60 feet of water.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SHERIFF OF SANTA BARBARA BILL BROWN, SAYING: "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy.

We understand the tremendous burden that they are under right now as they wait to determine exactly what happened and what condition and situation that they are in." The 75-foot charter dive boat called the Conception was operated by Worldwide Diving Adventures- a Santa Barbara-based company that says on its website it has been taking divers on such expeditions since 1972.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) DEAN CHILDS, DIVER SAYING: "Over 12 years I've been diving on that boat.

It's a top-notch outfit.

I can't believe that this happened to them.

" The cause of the fire remains unknown.

Meanwhile -- people laid flowers at a makeshift memorial at the Santa Barbara pier Monday, where the boat would have docked at the end of its voyage.

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